Taiwan's Fair Trade Commission has approved a plan by the nation's major operators to establish a mobile payment joint venture, amid cries by the political opposition that it is encouraging a monopoly.
The Commission has given the conditional nod to a mobile payment consortium set up by Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone, Taiwan Mobile, Asia Pacific Telecom, VIBO Telecom and smartcard system operator EasyCard, Focus Taiwan reported.
The planned Trusted Service Management (TSM) mobile platform will be an NFC payment system with wide-ranging applications.
EasyCard smartcards are already capable of purchasing public transport tickets as well as retail goods at a variety of department, convenience and other stores. It started out as a mass transit system, and is available for purchase at all stations.
The FTC said it had set some regulatory stipulations for the consortium, to avoid a potential monopoly.
These include limits on the amount each company is allowed to invest in the venture, a promise to support future payment systems if competing products emerge and an agreement not to give special treatment to current consortium members.
But these conditions weren't enough to prevent opposition lawmakers from accusing the FTC of effectively endorsing a monopoly, Taipei Timessaid.
At a press conference, a Democratic Progressive Party politician said that the five operator members account for almost all of the nation's mobile subscribers, and EasyCard had even more customers than the operators combined, implying that there would be little room for rival services to spring up.
Chunghwa, Far EasTone and Taiwan Mobile laid the groundwork for the joint venture back in September 2011 with an initial agreement to collaborate on a credit verification platform.